“The Department of Justice acted too soon.”
Santa Banana, everyone was saying that Julian Ongpin, the son of tycoon Roberto Ongpin, trade minister during the Marcos regime, has the Department of Justice in his pocket!
But, it now appears that the DOJ is actually victimizing Julian. Without allowing Julian the customary 15-day period to file for a Motion for Reconsideration, the DOJ immediately splashed a resolution all over the media clearly in violation of due process.
As a lawyer, I believe the DOJ committed a crucial mistake.
Without examining the facts and allowing Julian to respond, the DOJ rushed to judgment and recommended the Regional Trial Court of San Fernando City, La Union, Ongpin’s indictment on drug charges, simply because cocaine was found in the room Ongpin shared with a young artist. I think this smacks of rash judgment by the DOJ.
Through his lawyer, Ongpin claimed the DOJ failed to establish probable cause since the resolution was “anchored on mere speculation and erroneous inferences that accused violated Section 11 of Republic Act No. 9165 or the Comprehensive Dangerous Drug Act of 2002.”
Ongpin stressed the fact that the drugs found allegedly in his possession were instead actually not found in his possession, but in a pouch inside the handbag of Bree Johnson, his roommate.
Any lawyer would know that the DOJ should not have easily been swayed to accept the justification given the high possibility of planting, tampering or alteration of the evidence on account. The accused was absent from the scene during the conduct of the physical inventory and photographing of the subject drugs.
Ongpin, through his lawyers, claimed that the authorities broke the “chain of custody” rule under Republic Act 9165 as there was no attempt to summon the accused or any other possible mandatory witnesses such as a representative of the National Prosecution Service or from the media.
According to reports, the girl companion of Julian was well-known in artists’ circles as a drug pusher. Is this even true? After all, the cocaine was found in a pouch inside her handbag. Santa Banana, why was the DOJ so quick to point a finger at Ongpin? I know very well that in criminal cases, evidence or proof must be beyond reasonable doubt. Without this, the case can easily be dismissed.
I have known the Ongpin family for many years. Julian’s father Bobby was my student at the Loyola Heights Ateneo de Manila High School years ago. They are a good family, law abiding — certainly, they would never step into drug dealing.
I know Julian personally, and to me, he is not the type who would mess with drugs. I met him several times at the Makati City Club of which I am a member and I saw years ago an exhibition of his paintings. I knew him to be a clean-cut, budding visual artist.
That meeting of former Senator Bongbong Marcos with Davao City Mayor Sara Duterte-Carpio in the birthday party of House Majority Leader Martin Romualdez’s wife, party-list Rep. Yedda Romualdez, offers us many things we can speculate on.
Media reports said that Bongbong and Sara met and had discussion, not on politics. My gulay, can you believe that they talked about everything except the elections?
Then came reports from the presidential spokesman Harry Roque that Sara will not run for the presidency. But note that nothing is mentioned about Sara running for Vice President. This will happen, according to my inside information, on or before Nov. 15 — the last day of substitution. Will Sara finally decide to join the race?
If that happens, “Tapos na ang boxing!” It would be a formidable combination of North and South, and a tandem of Ilocano and Cebuano ethnic groups!
Incidentally, the “pinkos” and the Left have started their black propaganda against Bongbong Marcos. Not satisfied with the Martial Law issue, some critics of Bongbong are resurrecting that old issue that Bongbong did not graduate from Oxford University. My gulay, this is a dead issue. The answer has been established.
My colleague, Rigoberto Tiglao, who writes in another newspaper, had a full column on this issue, he said this is being resurrected by “ignoramuses and idiots who don’t really know about Bongbong finishing his course in Oxford University.”
When black propaganda is being thrown at Bongbong, it is a sure sign that he is leading the race. Is there black propaganda against the other presidential candidates? None!
The Comelec should watch out for and warn candidates about early campaigning. Those reported caravans and motorcades by Vice President Leni Robredo in key cities nationwide are clearly in violation of the law on early and premature campaigning. And so was the motorcade of Mayor Isko Moreno Domagos within Metro Manila. If the Comelec disregards them, and allows them to persist, the law on premature campaigning becomes a big joke.
At this early stage of the local and national elections, the Comelec should be extra strict in the observance of election laws. One thing that the Comelec should watch out for are gimmicks that candidates resort to.
Substitution of candidates makes a mockery of election laws. That happens when candidates who run often voluntarily withdraw when they get substituted by another. This makes a joke out of the Omnibus Election Code.
This has been happening during past elections, and the Comelec cannot do anything about it in the absence of law.
This is why I consider the bill filed by Senator Sherwin Gatchalian, criminalizing the substitution of candidates who voluntarily withdraw, important. It is co-authored by Majority Leader Migs Zubiri and Senators Nancy Binay, Grace Poe and Joel Villaueva.
Let us hope and pray that the low-risk category of the COVID-19 pandemic will be maintained until year end so that we will have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.
With the cases of COVID-19 infection steadily declining, Metro Manila and the National Capital Region may even go down to Alert Level No. 2 hopefully. But, as the Word Health Organization warns, we should not be too hasty.